The Living And The Dead
To hesitate on the edge of life or to plunge in and risk change -this is the dilemma explored in THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. Patrick White's second novel is set in thirties London and portrays the complex ebb and flow of relationships within the Standish family. Mrs Standish, ageing but still beautiful, is drawn into secret liaisons, while her daughter Eden experiments openly and impulsively with left-wing politics and love affairs. Only the son, Elyot, remains an aloof and scholarly observer - until dramatic events shock him into sudden self-knowledge.
Patrick White was born in England in 1912 and taken to Australia, where his father owned a sheep farm, when he was six months old. He was educated in England at Cheltenham college and King's College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where he wrote several unpublished novels, then served in the RAF during the war. He returned to Australia after the war.
He became the most considerable figure in modern Australian literature, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The great poet of Australian landscape, he turned its vast empty spaces into great mythic landscapes of the soul. His position as a man of letters was controversial, provoked by his acerbic, unpredictable public statements and his belief that it is eccentric individuals who offer the only hope of salvation. He died in September 1990.